Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher and three-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw says that there is only one "true way" way to get to Heaven and that is through the Savior, Jesus Christ.
The 29-year-old Dodgers ace spoke with Associated Press sports writer Rob Maaddi for his AM radio program "Faith on the Field" last week when the Dodgers were in Philadelphia for a four-game series against the Phillies.
In the interview, which aired on Monday evening's program on Philadelphia's AM 610, Kershaw was asked to explain how he lives out his faith in a culture that sometimes frowns upon people who publicly express their faith. He was also asked if he has a hard time relating to some of his teammates or finding times to share his faith with them.
"I think, especially in today's culture, it's kind of the cultural norm ... just to accept everybody for what they are. I firmly believe that you are supposed to love everybody. That is God's one boldest commandment," Kershaw explained. "At the same time, that doesn't mean you can't believe in Jesus Christ. I feel like Jesus is the only true way to Heaven. There is a lot of other things out there and a lot of other things people believe in but you are supposed to love everybody."
"You are not supposed to convert anybody. That is God's job," Kershaw continued. "But at the same time, you can be His disciple and live for Him and when people ask you why are living for Him, you can show them why and profess your faith. But at the end of the day, it is not our job to convert people. We are just supposed to follow Jesus and have people see how we live our lives."
Kershaw explained that although he grew up in a Christian household when he was young, it wasn't until about high school that he began to understand what it means to be a Christian.
"I grew up in the church and my family went to church growing up but I started really believing and understanding what it meant to be a follower of Jesus when I was probably in high school sometime," Kershaw stated. "From there, just trying to draw on my faith since then."
The seven-time all-star is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball and could be on his way to winning his fourth N.L. Cy Young Award, the league's top pitching award handed out after the end of every season. Kershaw told Maaddi that his Christian faith has helped him understand that his talent and success are nothing he deserved but rather gifts from God.
"I think more than anything, just putting in perspective what this baseball thing means and understanding that it is a gift and I didn't do anything to deserve that and realizing that if we continue to look to God to guide our path, you never know what could happen," Kershaw said when asked how his faith has had an impact on his career. "Baseball could end tomorrow but your just understanding that God is in control of it and we are not."
Although Kershaw is well known for his on-field performance, he is also very active in using the platform God gave him to provide for those in need.
In 2012, Kershaw became the youngest player ever to win Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award, which is an annual award given to the one player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team."
Kershaw runs a Christ-centered charity called Kershaw's Challenge, which aims to provide "a better quality of life and give opportunities to vulnerable, underprivileged children living in Dallas, Los Angeles, Zambia and the Dominican Republic."
"We do a lot of stuff all over the world actually. We have four different beneficiaries for our charity. Two in the U.S. and two overseas in the Dominican and Africa," Kershaw told Maaddi. "Once again, it is just using God's platform. We don't think of it as philanthropy but more stewardship. Whatever God has given us, we are just the vessel for it. We don't own anything that we have. It is all a gift from God and we are just trying to be good stewards of what He gives us."
Kershaw's Challenge has partnered with groups like CURE International in the Dominican Republic, which cures children with conditions like clubfoot, bowed legs, cleft lips, untreated burns and hydrocephalus.
Kershaw's Challenge also partners with Arise Africa to help children in Zambia. In 2012, Kershaw's Challenge teamed with the organization to help fund the building of an orphanage. According to the Kershaw's Challenge webpage, the charity has spent 2017 trying to raise funds to build a school in Lusaka.
Charity partners in Kershaw's hometown of Dallas, Texas, and in Los Angeles include Behind Every Door, which intervenes in inner city neighborhoods, and the Dream Center, which provides food, shelter, aid, job skills training and other necessities to those in need.